Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Double strike helps Kashiwa defeat Auckland

Posted in Asian Football, Oceania Football by peterbein on December 8, 2011

FIFA Club World Cup logoThe FIFA Club World Cup officially got under way today with two goals just before half-time giving Kashiwa Reysol a 2-0 win over Auckland City in the qualifying play-off to send the Japanese club through to the quarter-finals.

Kashiwa, who clinched the 2011 J-League title last weekend, had Junya Tanaka and Masato Kudo to thank as the pair struck in the 37th and 40th minutes respectively to send the host nation’s representatives into the next round. For Oceania champions Auckland City it was a disappointing result, especially given that they were in confident mood following a 100% record of winning results this season going into today’s game. Alas, the Japanese were too strong for the Kiwis who can now go back and concentrate on defending their domestic and continental titles.

The two quarter-final matches will be played on Saturday with Kashiwa playing CONCACAF North and Central American champions Monterrey whilst CAF African Champions League winners Esperance meet AFC Asian Champions League holders Al-Sadd.

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FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Auckland City

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on November 29, 2011

Auckland City FC logoAuckland City are beginning to make a habit out of playing in the FIFA Club World Cup. This year will see the New Zealanders make their third appearance in the competition since 2006 following another O-League success in 2010-11. They will face the Japanese champions in a qualifying play-off and, if successful, will go on to play CONCACAF Champions League holders Monterrey CF in the quarter-finals.

Auckland City qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup having won their third continental title without losing a game. With a record of four wins and two draws in the group phase City got the better of AS Magenta (New Caledonia), AS Tefana (Tahiti) and compatriots Waitakere United with a six point margin separating the two New Zealand clubs who have dominated the O-League in the last six years. In the two-legged final against Vanuatu champions Amicale FC the New Zealanders narrowly won the first leg 2-1 away from home, with goals from Manuel Exposito and Luis Corrales, before sealing the deal in style with a 4-0 return leg victory. Alex Feneridis, Daniel Koprivcic, Exposito and Adam McGeorge hit the back of the net in the home leg and, thus, ensured that the trophy would be winging its way back to Kiwitea Street following previous successes in 2006 and 2009.

Since City won the 2010-11 O-League the club has continued to go from strength to strength in this season’s competition starting off their title defence with back-to-back victories over Koloale FC (Solomon Islands) and 2009-10 champions Hekari United (Papua New Guniea). Auckland City have also began the new domestic season strongly, winning the curtain-raising ASB Charity Cup match and winning all four of their opening ASB Premiership matches. Wins against Waikato FC Hamilton, Team Wellington, Waitakere United and Young Heart Manuwatu have seen City become the only team to maintain a 100% record after four games, scoring seventeen goals and conceding just four times so far.

Having only been founded seven years ago Auckland City have come so far in such a short time but they have yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the FIFA Club World Cup. In 2006 they lost to African champions Al Ahly in the quarter-finals before going down to Asian winners Jeonbuk Motors in the 5th/6th play-off. The 2009 tournament proved to be slightly more successful for the New Zealanders as they won a qualifying play-off against host representatives Al Ahli before losing to CONCACAF champions Atlante CF in the quarter-finals but Auckland did have the consolation of winning that year’s 5th/6th play-off game against Africans TP Mazembe. My prediction is that Auckland City may find it difficult to get beyond the qualifying play-off round this time but they continue to do New Zealand football proud just by being there and hopefully they will show some of the attacking football which has won them many prizes domestically.

AMICALE FC v AUCKLAND CITY – FINAL, 1ST LEG

AUCKLAND CITY v AMICALE FC – FINAL, 2ND LEG

Oceania: Kiwi top two set standard in O-League

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on November 22, 2011

Auckland City O-League champions 2011Whilst the UEFA Champions League continues to take centre stage in Europe as the competition nears the end of its group phase, the equivalent tournament in the Oceania region is two rounds into the 2011-12 O-League and, as usual, the two New Zealand representatives are setting the pace for all of the others to follow.

Defending champions Auckland City and their compatriots Waitakere United have won five of the last six tournaments between them since Australian clubs decided to move to the Asian Champions League set-up in 2006. The former team won their third title in last season’s competition by defeating Vanuatu champions Amicale FC 6-1 on aggregate. In this year’s tournament, following last weekend’s round of games, Auckland lead the Group B table with a full compliment of six points from two games and a two point gap separating them from Amicale FC who they must face in their next game on January 18th, a game moved to accommodate Auckland City’s participation in the oncoming FIFA Club World Cup in December. Matchday 2 saw Auckland defeat Papua New Guinea champions Hekari United with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Manel Expósito and Emiliano Tade ensuring that the New Zealanders go into their forthcoming FIFA Club World Cup qualification match against the host Japanese champions, as yet undecided, in good spirits.

Waitakere United, two-time winners of the O-League competition, do have a much easier group and are huge favourites to progress from Group A as winners. In their opening game they saw off the weak challenge of French Polynesia outfit Tefana FC with a massive 10-0 scoreline, Fijian international Roy Krishna helping himself to five of his team’s ten goals. Waitakere’s game last weekend saw a more sober 4-0 victory over Fijian champions Ba with four different scorers – Jone Vesikula, Ross McKenzie, Chris Bale and Sean Lovemore – finding the back of the net for the Kiwis who are expected to stroll their way into this season’s two-legged final which take place in April/May 2012. Their next group game comes against New Caledonian side AS Mont-Dore on December 3rd and nothing less than three points will satisfy United who are desperate for another shot at the Oceania crown having failed to win any of the last three tournaments including the shock 4-2 aggregate defeat to Hekari United in the 2009-10 campaign.

Oceania: Auckland City back on top in O-League (+video)

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on April 19, 2011

Auckland City won their third O-League title on Sunday defeating Vanuatu champions Amical FC by 4-0 in the second leg and 6-1 on aggregate. The win means that New Zealand retains its position as the dominant force in Oceania club football following Hekari United’s surprise win in 2010. Auckland City’s reward for winning the O-League title is to participate in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup which takes place at the end of the year.

New Zealand: Waitakere crowned champions again

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on April 11, 2011
Waitakere United

Waitakere United are the 2011 New Zealand champions

The ASB Premiership, New Zealand’s premier football tournament, has been won yet again by Waitakere United. The defending champions and regular season table-toppers defeated arch-rivals Auckland City by a 3-2 scoreline to secure the club’s third championship crown in four years.

Both finalists reached the showpiece match of the New Zealand football calendar by securing big aggregate wins in their semi-final matches. Waitakere United got the better of Canterbury United by 6-3 whilst Team Wellington were Auckland City’s victims going down to a 7-1 hammering. Auckland City, who hope to claim the Oceania Champions League title next weekend at home to Vanuatu champions Amicale FC, wanted to claim the national title before they indulged in continental affairs. However Waitakere, despite having lost a number of players through injury before the final, put paid to their rivals’ hopes.

Dakota Lewis bagged a brace for Waitakere United in the first half with a goal for Auckland’s Aaron Scott sandwiching them to ensure that the game finished with a 2-1 scoreline at the half-time break. Auckland would go on to restore parity in the second half thanks to a Manel Exposito goal just four minutes after the re-start but United would have the last laugh in stoppage time. Auckland defender James Pritchett was the unfortunate player to deflect the ball into his own net as Waitakere would go on to seal the deal in cruel fashion.

O-League: 2010-11 Season Preview

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on October 20, 2010
Hekari United

Hekari United are the defending champions

This weekend sees the beginning of a new campaign in Oceania’s elite football competition, the O-League. Having established itself as a regular feature of the football calendar since it was rebranded with a new format in 2007, the anticipation ahead of this tournament is growing mainly because of last season’s shock victory of Papua New Guinea’s PKR Hekari United FC. They beat Waitakere United 4-2 on aggregate in the 2009-10 final to put a halt to the domination from New Zealand clubs and, thus, qualify for the 2010 Club World Cup which takes place in Abu Dhabi for the second successive year in December. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks ahead to this year’s edition.

Last season’s surprise champions PKR Hekari United will be expecting perennial challengers Auckland City and Waitakere United to come back stronger in order to take the title from their grasp. The two Kiwi clubs have, once again, been drawn in the same group and will be fighting it out to reach another final. The eight teams in the competition have been drawn into two groups of four with the top team from each group going to next year’s two-legged final in April. Here is a quick guide to the eight teams:

GROUP A

HEKARI UNITED (Papua New Guinea)

Champions of their domestic league for the last four seasons, Hekari (formerly Souths) United made the most of their talents in order to claim a maiden O-League triumph last season having defeated Waitakere United. With new arrival Henry Fa’arodo United will be expected to score plenty of the goals again and the defending champions will hope to reach a second successive final seeing as they avoided the two New Zealand clubs in the draw.

KOLOALE FC (Solomon Islands)

National team striker Benjamin Totori has returned to his homeland following a five year stint at New Zealanders Waitakere United and he will hope that his goalscoring prowess can fire his team to a second O-League final. On the other side of the coin the loss of Henry Fa’arodo to Hekari United will be a blow to the side. The club reached the 2008-09 final in their first ever appearance in the competition but suffered at the hands of Auckland City by a comprehensive 9-4 aggregate scoreline and will hope to go one better this time around.

LAUTOKA FC (Fiji)

Lautoka FC have never reached the final of this tournament and would dearly like to become the third Fijian side to do so after their arch-rivals Ba FC reached the 2007 O-League final and Nadi FC reached the final in the tournament’s previous guise of the Oceania Clubs Championship in 1999. Both of their compatriots went on to lose their respective finals so Lautoka FC would be looking to make history should they make it all the way to the final in April.

AMICAL FC (Vanuatu)

At long last!! Tafea FC’s long reign as domestic champions is finally over (not that I’m biased against Tafea I hasten to add). After winning the Premia Divisen championship in 2010 Amical FC put an end to Tafea’s fifteen year reign at the helm and gave themselves the opportunity of playing O-League football for the first time. The club have also recruited Alick Maemae (many thanks to “Diego”, a Stoppage Time reader who informed me of this move as I had reported differently earlier) and have ambitions to make a mark on this tournament despite their inexperience.

GROUP B

WAITAKERE UNITED (New Zealand)

Last season’s defeated finalists and two-time winners of the competition in 2007 and 2008, Waitakere United are determined to reach the final of this tournament again but will have to do so without prolific striker Benjamin Totori who has gone back to the Solomon Islands. Nonetheless much of last season’s squad remains and, with a few adjustments throughout the season, player-manager Neil Emblem’s side are well-placed to make a fight on two fronts again this season.

AUCKLAND CITY (New Zealand)

Auckland City, another two-time champion having won the title in the 2006 and 2008-09 seasons, have big ambitions to get back to the top following a disappointing 2009-10 campaign. They lost out to arch-rivals Waitakere United in the group stages of this tournament last season and also saw their arch-rivals lift the domestic championship too. Now Auckland City will want to get their own back with a new coaching team of Aaron McFarland and Ramon Tribulietx plus the addition of All Whites player David Mulligan to an already large playing squad.

AS MAGENTA (New Caledonia)

AS Magenta has been a regular participant in the O-League thanks to their prolific run of success in their national championship in the last decade. With six titles to their name AS Magenta also came close to winning this competition in 2004-05 where they lost to Australians Sydney FC in the final. Will probably be fighting it out with AS Tefana to avoid the wooden spoon in Group B. 

AS TEFANA (French Polynesia)

Having won the Tahitian championship for only the second time in their history in 2010 AS Tefana will compete in the O-League for the first time and are not expected to challenge the New Zealand clubs for the top spot which would guarantee a place in the tournament final. At least they can gain some much needed experience of international competition and will want to reach a minimum of third place in the group.

Matchday 1 Fixtures

Group A: Hekari United v Amical FC

Koloale FC v Lautoka FC

Group B: Auckland City v AS Magenta

Waitakere United v AS Tefana

OFC Champions League resumes with big wins for Auckland and Hekari United

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 13, 2010
FC Tafea

FC Tafea, perennial champions of Vanuatu, were defeated heavily away at Hekari United 4-0

The OFC Champions League, Oceania football’s showpiece club competition, resumed yesterday after a break of just over two months. With both of the four team groups having played up to the halfway point before Christmas each group resumed yesterday with matches that had major significance at the top of the respective tables. Defending champions Auckland City are in a good position to reach another final but there are still four other teams in each of the two groups who have ambitions of reaching the two-legged final on April 17th and May 2nd. “Stoppage Time” will review what has happened in the tournament so far:

GROUP A: Auckland City (Played 4 games/10 points), Waitakere United (3/5), AS Magenta (3/2), AS Manu Ura (4/1)

This group was always expected to be a two horse race between the great rivals of New Zealand football, Auckland City and Waitakere United, and their meeting scheduled for March 27th on the final matchday is already being touted as a possible group decider. After Matchday 3 the two Kiwi heavyweights were separated by just two points. Upon the resumption of the tournament it is Auckland City, the defending champions of Oceania, who have stolen a march on their rivals with a 2-0 away win in Tahiti against AS Manu Ura yesterday. Goals from Ian Hogg and Daniel Koprivcic were enough to give Auckland City, representatives in last year’s FIFA Club World Cup, three points and a healthy five point lead in the table before Waitakere United play their Matchday 4 game at home to French Polynesian side AS Magenta next Saturday.

GROUP B: Hekari United (Played 4 games/7 points), Tafea FC (4/7), Laukota FC (3/6), Marist FC (3/0)

At the halfway stage Group B was topped by Tafea FC, perennial champions of Vanuatu having won every league championship there since 1994, by just a point from Fijian side Laukota FC. With Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United on four points after three games one couldn’t discount their challenge in this tough group with only bottom side Marist FC from the Soloman Islands out of the running completely having lost all three group games so far. Yesterday the group was thrown wide open with a big 4-0 win for Hekari United at home to table-toppers Tafea FC. Goals from Alick Maemae (2), Tuimasi Manuca and Joachim Waroi allowed the Port Moresby based side to take the top spot on goal difference from Tafea. This result will give Laukota FC hope of stealing a march on the top two if they can overcome, as expected, the challenge of Marist FC tomorrow. This group could be decided by either the smallest of points margins or on goal difference as the top three will fight it out for the top spot which will guarantee a place in the O League final and the chance to qualify for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup.

New Zealand: Race for the Play-Offs hots up

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 2, 2010
Auckland City FC

Auckland City FC, seen here celebrating the 2008-09 New Zealand Football Championship, are leading the way in the 2009-10 tournament.

The continuing rivalry between Auckland City and Waitakere United dominated the proceedings in the latest round of fixtures in the New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC). With both teams level on points before the game a win for either side would increase their chances of finishing first in the regular season standings. But there was more than just points at stake in this clash of the titans.

Since the beginning of the NZFC in 2004-05 these two city rivals have dominated the league. Auckland City have won the most championships winning four out of five available thus far (the only exception was Waitakere’s win in 2008) whilst Waitakere United have been crowned “Minor Premiers” (i.e. have topped the regular season standings) three times out of five with Auckland City being successful twice. The fact that the Minor Premiers and the overall champions qualify for the OFC Champions League means that these two arch-rivals have been perennial representatives of New Zealand. Since Australian clubs ceased to participate in the tournament following their move on to the Asian football scene, New Zealand’s big two have won the last four tournaments between them. Auckland City are the current OFC Champions League holders having beaten Koloale FC in last year’s final but were also successful in 2006, whilst Waitakere United won back-to-back tournaments in 2007 and 2008 so their rivalry is more than just a local dispute.

Auckland City began the game on Saturday unbeaten with 19 points from seven games, hosts Waitakere United were level on points albeit having played two games more than the league leaders. A crowd of just over two thousand witnessed the latest chapter of a fixture which always has something riding on the result. Unfortunately the crowd didn’t witness any goals in the first half although both sides did hit the woodwork on one occasion each. Thankfully for the expectant crowd it didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken once the second half got under way. A header from Auckland City’s Chad Coombes opened the scoring on 53 minutes and they proceeded to take the game to their opponents for the next fifteen minutes. However the home side equalized in the 70th minute after some poor defending following a corner kick allowed Waitakere’s Tim Myers to prod home from close range. The final twenty minutes of the match saw the home side, buoyed by the equalizer, take the game to the champions but they were unable to grab that crucial second goal.

Elsewhere in the NZFC the chase for the fourth spots in the post-season Play-Offs remains tight although third-place Otago United cemented their place by defeating fourth-place Team Wellington 3-1. Team Wellington will now be looking over their shoulder as fifth-place Canterbury United, whose game at Hawkes Bay United was postponed, are only a point behind with two games in hand. The exotically named YoungHeart Manawatu blew their chance to go fourth when they lost 3-2 at home to Waikato FC whose win took them off the bottom of the standings, one point ahead of Hawkes Bay United. With each team playing fourteen matches in the regular season there is still a lot to play for especially as there is no relegation in the eight team NZFC and, therefore, the race for the Play-Offs is just starting to hot up in New Zealand.

FIFA Club World Cup Review

FC Barcelona

At the third time of asking FC Barcelona become World Club champions

It was a case of third time lucky for FC Barcelona as they sealed their maiden triumph in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Their opponents, Copa Libertadores champions Estudiantes de La Plata, were so close to winning the trophy themselves after leading the contest for so long. However the Catalans rounded off the final leg of an unprecedented “grand slam” of trophies by scoring late in reglaur time and rounding off the game in extra-time.

The first half of the game started with no real flow due to the number of fouls being committed on both sides. The first thirty minutes saw few real chances and it resembled the proverbial game of chess. However the deadlock was broken on 37 minutes as Mauro Boselli headed in a Juan Manual Diaz cross from the left to give “los Pincharatas” a 1-0 lead and they saw this lead through to half-time.

In the second half Estudiantes seemed determined to hold on to their lead allowing the European champions as much time and possession as they wished, with the Argentines hoping to break on the counter attack. For so long the rugged Estudiantes defence kept wave after wave of “Barça” attacks out of reach and their defensive tactics appeared to be paying off. However the breakthrough for Barcelona came very late. In the 88th minute Pedro managed to loop a header over goalkeeper Albil into the top right hand corner and the hoardes of Barcelona fans in the stadium were ecstatic.

Barcelona started the extra-time period in much the same fashion as they’d ended the regulation period. Ibrahimovic and Toure had shots blocked in the first period of fifteen minutes. It wasn’t until five minutes into the second half of extra-time until Lionel Messi was able to pop up with the game’s decisive moment. Dani Alves’ right sided cross was chested home by the Argentine superstar from close range and the Catalans could sense that their day had finally come after two previous disappointments in Club World Cup finals.

The excitement wasn’t quite over as an urgent Estudiantes side finally found some forward momentum to try and take the game into penalties. A free kick was won in the last minute of extra-time and Estudiantes had everybody in the penalty area including goalkeeper Albil. However Juan Sebastian Veron’s free-kick was headed just wide by defender Leandro Desabato and the last chance for Veron Jr. to emulate his father’s achievement of 1968 (see “FIFA Club World Cup – Preview” blog) was over. The final whistle was blown and Barcelona’s fans were rejoicing the completion of an unprecedented sextet of trophies: Spanish League, Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup. In a little under eighteen months Barça coach Pep Guardiola, already much decorated as a player, had won everything there was to win as a coach. Already in his fledgling managerial career he will go down as one of the legends of the game for this remarkable achievement.

In the other two matches played to close the tournament Asian champions Pohang Steelers clinched third place beating North/Central American champions Atlante CF 4-3 on penalties after the game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes (no extra-time in this contest). The South Koreans’ success means that the Asian representatives have finished third in the last three tournaments (Urawa Red Diamonds and Gamba Osaka also finished third in 2007 and 2008 resepectively). In the fifth/sixth place play-off, played on Wednesday December 16th, Oceania’s Auckland City continued their dream tournament by beating African champions TP Mazembe 3-2 securing the win with a last minute winner from Riki van Steeden. This ensured the best ever performance by an Oceanian team in the tournament’s history.

“Big Two” qualify for FIFA Club World Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started for Barcelona in their semi-final against Atlante of Mexico

The FIFA Club World Cup is well under way now in the United Arab Emirates and, as expected, there will be a showdown between European champions FC Barcelona and their South American equivalents Estudiantes de la Plata on Saturday, December 19th. Stoppage Time looks at the tournament so far.

The tournament kicked off in Abu Dhabi with the Oceania representatives Auckland City FC, who had previously participated in this tournament in 2006, winning the first match against host team Al Ahli FC 2-0 thanks to goals from Adam Dickinson and Chad Coombes. Thanks to that win the New Zealanders had already achieved their main goal which was to qualify for the quarter-finals, in which they played against North/Central America champions Atlante CF (Mexico). Alas they were unable to progress any further as the Mexicans cruised into the semi-finals winning the game 3-0 due to strikes from Daniel Arreola, Christian Bermudez and Lucas Silva. In the other quarter-final it was a Brazilian who helped Asian champions Pohang Steelers (South Korea) overcome a half-time deficit as Denilson’s two second half goals helped see off the challenge from African Champions League winners TP Mazembe (Congo DR) in a close match 2-1.

The big two of the tournament entered at the semi-final stage. First to play were Estudiantes (Argentina) against Pohang Steelers. Although the Argentines enjoyed twice the amount of possession and had nearly three times as many shots at goal as their opponents they were made to work hard by a Pohang side that were tough to break down. Leandro Benitez scored two minutes into first half stoppage time to give “the Students” the advantage at half-time and followed that with his second goal eight minutes into the second half. It was the Koreans’ own South American influence that brought them back into the game when Denilson pulled one back after 71 minutes. However their discipline, or lack of it, proved their undoing as they had three players sent off the pitch. Two of the players, Kim Jae Sung and goalkeeper Shin Hwa Yong, were sent off in the final eighteen minutes of the game and the numerical advantage allowed Estudiantes to cross the line in comfortable fashion and into their fourth Club World Cup final.

Barcelona’s campaign started with a tougher challenge against Atlante CF just four days after they had won their local derby against Espanyol 1-0 in La Liga. The scorer in the derby, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was among the starters for Barça while Lionel Messi, newly crowned European Footballer of the Year winner, was on the substitutes’ bench. However the Mexicans hadn’t come to the Middle East to make up the numbers and they stunned their more illustrious opponents early on thanks to a Guillermo Rojas goal after five minutes. The game ebbed and flowed for the next thirty minutes until Barcelona equalized thanks to a Sergio Busquets strike and the half finished 1-1. However the second half was to be dominated by the “Blaugrana” as Pep Guardiola’s 52nd minute substitution bringing on Lionel Messi for Yaya Toure, proved a masterstroke as the little Argentine made an immediate impact, rounding the keeper to make it 2-1 on 55 minutes. From here the “Blaugrana” began to take charge and they were further rewarded on 67 minutes when some good work by Andres Iniesta was turned home by Pedro from close range making the score 3-1. The remainder of the game was played almost as a Barcelona training session as Atlante failed to trouble the scoresheet any further and it was the giants from Catalonia who sealed their place in Sunday’s final, their third final since 1992, against Estudiantes de la Plata.